Natives block road, Cayoosh resort 

It could be a long, hot summer full of confrontation after a native roadblock brought traffic to a standstill on Highway 99 north of Pemberton last Saturday morning.

According to Pemberton RCMP, whose constables attended the demonstration, the three-hour blockade of the Duffey Lake Road was for information purposes.

Members of the St’at’imc First Nation were protesting a proposed ski resort in the Melvin Creek drainage between Pemberton and Lillooet.

Eighty-three per cent of the nearby Mount Currie Indian Band voted against the development last October. The 10 other bands that make up the St’at’imc nation are also opposed.

Al Raine and his wife, Olympic gold medallist skier Nancy Greene Raine, have plans to invest $500-million into a high mountain bowl in the Cayoosh Range.

The couple helped build Whistler during the 1970s and ’80s and are currently involved with Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops.

A group of about 20 Aboriginals set up the blockade to protest development on their traditional territories and to raise awareness about unresolved land issues.

The contentious area is claimed to be the home of Sutikah, the winter spirit.

Newly elected B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and his Liberal government have promised to hold a province-wide referendum on treaty negotiations, which could cause further tension.

Pemberton RCMP did not report any confrontations during the demonstration.

Natives set up a roadblock in the same location last August after the provincial government granted the proposed resort environmental certification. A small protest camp has remained at the site ever since.

The Raines’ problems do not end with the Cayoosh roadblock. Members of the Secwepemc First Nation recently occupied a cabin at Sun Peaks as part of an ongoing protest against a proposed $70-million expansion of that resort.

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